1982 world champion Keke Rosberg has tipped Caterham to take a “step forward” in 2012. But the Finn, whose son is the Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, also said Heikki Kovalainen’s team could face a speed-bump in the form of its scheduled factory move.
“That will be a big distraction,” Rosberg, 63, told the MTV3 broadcaster. “It’s not just moving a few machines but hundreds of people, not all of whom will want to move schools and children and the like. Let’s see how they cope with it.”
As for the former Lotus team’s overall prospects for this season, however, Rosberg said: “They will probably go one step up from where they were last year, if only because they now have KERS in the picture.
“That should reduce the gap to Williams and Force India.”
Rosberg said he is a supporter of the small teams, like Caterham and the struggling Marussia and HRT.
“You have to start somewhere; you can’t come along and be Ferrari. And there is a need for the small teams, otherwise you would just have McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull. You need the top teams, the midfield teams and the small teams. Hopefully one day they can develop into a big team – remember Stewart became Jaguar and finally Red Bull.”
Rosberg said he rejects Ferrari’s idea that small teams should give up on building their own cars and instead be allowed to buy a customer chassis.
“Imagine Ferrari is a half second faster than anyone else, so all of a sudden you have half the field with Ferraris all ahead of the others.
“If you could buy a last year’s car, it increases the numbers and gives better access to the young drivers, engineers and mechanics.”
But the problem with that, he said, is F1’s constantly changing rules.
“For example, the nose has changed for this year, so you can’t really use last year’s car (now). If you have a team that used to buy a car from someone else, what will they do then? F1 has always been the category in which teams build their own cars, otherwise it’s GP2 with a lot of Ferraris.”